Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Cumulative asbestos exposure for US automobile mechanics involved in brake repair (circa 1950s–2000)

Abstract

We analyzed cumulative lifetime exposure to chrysotile asbestos experienced by brake mechanics in the US during the period 1950–2000. Using Monte Carlo methods, cumulative exposures were calculated using the distribution of 8-h time-weighted average exposure concentrations for brake mechanics and the distribution of job tenure data for automobile mechanics. The median estimated cumulative exposures for these mechanics, as predicted by three probabilistic models, ranged from 0.16 to 0.41 fibers per cubic centimeter (f/cm3) year for facilities with no dust-control procedures (1970s), and from 0.010 to 0.012 f/cm3 year for those employing engineering controls (1980s). Upper-bound (95%) estimates for the 1970s and 1980s were 1.96 to 2.79 and 0.07–0.10 f/cm3 year, respectively. These estimates for US brake mechanics are consistent with, but generally slightly lower than, those reported for European mechanics. The values are all substantially lower than the cumulative exposure of 4.5 f/cm3 year associated with occupational exposure to 0.1 f/cm3 of asbestos for 45 years that is currently permitted under the current occupational exposure limits in the US. Cumulative exposures were usually about 100- to 1,000-fold less than those of other occupational groups with asbestos exposure for similar time periods. The cumulative lifetime exposure estimates presented here, combined with the negative epidemiology data for brake mechanics, could be used to refine the risk assessments for chrysotile-exposed populations.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type

from$1.95

to$39.95

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5

References

  • Agudo A., Gonzalez C.A., Bleda M.J., Ramirez J., and Hernandez S. Occupation and risk of malignant pleural mesothelioma: A case-control study in Spain. Am J Ind Med 2000: 37: 159–168.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Benhamou S., Benhamou E., and Flamant R. Occupational risk factors of lung cancer in a French case–control study. Br J Ind Med 1988: 45: 231–233.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Berman D.W., and Crump K.S. Final draft: Technical support document for a protocol to assess asbestos-related risk. EPA# 9345. 4-06. US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, Washington, DC (October) 2003.

  • Boillat M.-A., and Lob M. Risque d’asbestose chez les travailleurs occupes a remplacer les garnitures de freins (Risk of asbestosis in workers replacing automobile brake linings). Schweiz Med Wschr 1973: 103: 1354–1359.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Browne K. A threshold for asbestos related lung cancer. Br J Ind Med 1986: 43: 556–558.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Burmaster D.E. Distributions of total job tenure for men and women in selected industries and occupations in the United States, February 1996. Risk Anal 2000: 20: 205–224.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Carey M. Occupational tenure in 1987: Many workers have remained in their fields. Mon Labor Rev 1988, 3–12.

  • Carey M. Occupational tenure, employer tenure, and occupational mobility. OCCUP Outlook Q 1990: 1: 55–60.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cheng V.K.I., and O’Kelly F.J. Asbestos exposure in the motor vehicle repair and servicing industry in Hong Kong. J Soc Occup Med 1986: 36: 104–106.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Churg A. Neoplastic asbestos-induced disease. In: A. Churg and F.H.Y. Green (eds) Pathology of Occupational Lung Disease, 2nd edn., Chapter 10 Igaku-Shoin Medical Publishers, New York, 1998 pp. 339–391.

    Google Scholar 

  • Churg A., and Green F.H.Y. Pathology of Occupational Lung Disease. Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, 1988.

    Google Scholar 

  • Coggon D., Inskip H., Winter P., and Pannett B. Differences in occupational mortality from pleural cancer, peritoneal cancer, and asbestosis. Occup Environ Med 1995: 52: 775–777.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Dahlqvist M., Alexandersson R., and Hedenstierna G. Lung function and exposure to asbestos among vehicle mechanics. Am J Ind Med 1992: 22: 59–68.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Dement J.M. Cincinnati municipal garage: Automobile brake servicing operation. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Report No. IHS – 32–11 1972.

  • Doll R., and Peto J. Asbestos: Effects on health of exposure to asbestos. Health and Safety Commission. Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO), London, 1985 58 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dupre J.S., Mustard J.F., and Uffen R.J. The report of the Royal Commission on Asbestos: An overview. In: Report of the Royal Commission on Matters of Health and Safety Arising from the Use of Asbestos in Ontario (Vol 1, Part 1, Chapter 1), Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, Toronto, 1984 pp. 1–22.

  • Elliehausen H.J., Paur R., Rödelsperger K., and Woitowitz H.J. The risk of asbestos inhalation in automobile mechanics in the brake service. Arbeitsmedizin Sozialmedizin Praventmedizin 1985: 20: 256–261.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goodman M., Teta M.J., Hessel P.A., Garabrandt D.H., Craven V.A., Scrafford C.G., and Kelsh M.A. Mesothelioma and lung cancer among motor vehicle mechanics: A meta-analysis. Ann Occup Hyg 2004: 48: 309–326.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gustavsson P., Plato N., Lidstrom E.B., and Hogstedt C. Lung cancer and exposure to diesel exhaust among bus garage workers. Scand J Work Environ Health 1990: 16: 348–354.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hansen E.S. Mortality of auto mechanics: A ten-year follow up. Scand J Work Environ Health 1989: 15: 43–46.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hansen J., and Meersohn A. Kraeftsygelighed blandt danske lonmodtagere (1970–97) fordelt pa Arbejdstilsynets 49 branchegrupper. Institut for Epidemiologisk Kraeftforskning, Kraeftens Bekaempelse, Kobenhavn, 2003.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hessel P.A., Teta M.J., Goodman M., and Lau E. Mesothelioma among brake mechanics: An expanded analysis of a case-control study. Risk Anal 2004: 24: 547–552.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hickish D.E., and Knight K.L. Exposure to asbestos during brake maintenance. Ann Occup Hyg 1970: 13: 17–21.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hodgson J.T., and Darnton A. The quantitative risks of mesothelioma and lung cancer in relation to asbestos exposure. Ann Occup Hyg 2000: 44: 565–601.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hrubec Z., Blair A.E., Rogot E., and Vaught J. Mortality risks by occupation among US veterans of known smoking status: 1954−1980. NIH Publication No. 92−3407. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health (NIH) 1992.

  • Hrubec Z., Blair A.E., and Vaught J. Mortality risks by industry among US veterans of known smoking status: 1954−1980. NIH Publication No. 95−2747. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health (NIH) 1995.

  • Jacko M.G., and Rhee S.K. Brake linings and clutch facings. In: Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, 4th edition, Vol 4, Bearing Materials to Carbon. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY, 1992 pp. 523–536.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jahn H. Asbestexposition in Bremsendienstein von Kraftfahrzeug-Werkstätten. Fachhochschule Giessen-Friedberg, Institut und der Poliklinik fur Arbeits und Sozialmedizin der Justus-Liebig-Universitat Giessen: Giessen, 1983.

  • Johnson P., Zumwalde R.D., and Roberts D. Industrial Hygiene Assessment of Seven Brake Servicing Facilities—Asbestos. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1979, Cincinnati, Ohio.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kauppinen T., and Korhonen K. Exposure to asbestos during brake maintenance of automotive vehicles by different methods. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 1987: 48: 499–504.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Laden F., Stampfer M.J., and Walker A.M. Lung cancer and mesothelioma among male automobile mechanics: A review. Rev Environ Health 2004: 19: 39–61.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lerchen M.L., Wiggins C.L., and Samet J.M. Lung cancer and occupation in New Mexico. J Natl Cancer Inst 1987: 79: 639–645 October.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Marcus K., Jarvholm B.G., and Larsson S. Asbestos-associated lung effects in car mechanics. Scand J Work Environ Health 1987: 13: 252–254.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • McDonald A.D., and McDonald J.C. Malignant mesothelioma in North America. Cancer 1980: 46: 1650–1656.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • McElvenny D.M., Darnton A.J., Price M.J., and Hodgson J.T. Mesothelioma mortality in Great Britain from 1968 to 2001. Occup Med (Lond) 2005: 55: 7987.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Milham S., and Ossiander E. Occupational mortality in Washington State 1950−1999. Epidemiology Office, Washington State Department of Health, 2001.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moore L.M. Asbestos exposure associated with automotive brake repair in Pennsylvania. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 1988: 49: A12–13.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morabia A., Markowitz S., Garibaldi K., and Wynder E.L. Lung cancer and occupation: Results of a multicentre case–control study. Br J Ind Med 1992: 49: 721–727.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • NIOSH. Letter to M.J. Teta from J.T. Walker regarding inquiry about PMRs for auto mechanics, with attached data sheets. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service 2002.

  • Nicholson W.J., Daum S.M., Lorimer W.V., Velez H., Lilis R., Selikoff I.J., Miller A., Anderson H.A., Fischbein S.A., Holstein E.C., Rom W.N., Rosenman K., Todaro J.D., Cheng W., Li V., and Tarr D.T. Investigation of health hazards in brake lining repair and maintenance workers occupationally exposed to asbestos, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Cincinnati, Ohio, 1984.

  • Olsen J.H., and Jensen O.M. Occupation and risk of cancer in Denmark: An analysis of 93,810 cancer cases, 1970−1979. Scand J Work Environ Health 1987: 13 (Suppl 1): 1–91.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Paustenbach D.J., Richter R.O., Finley B.L., and Sheehan P.J. An evaluation of the historical exposures of mechanics to asbestos in brake dust. Appl Occup Environ Hyg 2003: 18: 786–804.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Petersen G.R., and Milham S. Occupational mortality in the state of California 1959–61. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Research Report NO1-CP-33353, 1980.

    Google Scholar 

  • Plato N., Tornling G., Hogstedt C., and Krantz S. An index of past asbestos exposure as applied to car and bus mechanics. Ann Occup Hyg 1995: 39: 441–454.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Price P.S., Su S.H., and Gray M.N. The effects of sampling bias on estimates of angler consumption rates in creel surveys. J Expos Anal Environ Epidemiol 1994: 4: 355–372.

    Google Scholar 

  • Price P.S., Scott P.K., Wilson N.D., and Paustenbach D.J. An empirical approach for deriving information on total duration of exposure from information on historical exposure. Risk Anal 1998: 18: 611–619.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Roberts D. Industrial hygiene report — Asbestos, Reading Brake and Alignment Service. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: Reading, Ohio, 1980a.

    Google Scholar 

  • Roberts D. Industrial hygiene report — Asbestos, Allied Brake Shop. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1980b.

    Google Scholar 

  • Roberts D., and Zumwalde R. Industrial hygiene summary report of asbestos exposure assessment for brake mechanics. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1982: 10: 63–72.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rödelsperger K., Jahn H., Bruckel B., Manke J., Paur R., and Woitowitz H.J. Asbestos dust exposure during brake repair. Am J Ind Med 1986: 10: 63–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rolland R., Gramond C., Berron H., Ducamp S., Imbernon E., Goldberg M., and Brochard P. Pleural mesothelioma: Professions and occupational areas at risk among humans. Based on data from the French National Mesothelioma Monitoring Program (PNSM).] Institut de Veille Sanitaire with Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, in French. Available online: 2005: http://www.invs.sante.fr.

  • Rushton L., Alderson M.R., and Nagarajah C.R. Epidemiological survey of maintenance workers in London Transport Executive bus garages and Chiswick Works. Br J Ind Med 1983: 40: 340–345.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Sheehy J.W., Cooper T.C., O’Brien D.M., McGlothlin J.D., and Froehlich P.A. Control of asbestos exposure during brake drum service. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1989.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Spirtas R., Keehn R., Wright W., Stark A., Beebe G., and Dickson E. Mesothelioma risk related to occupational or other asbestos exposure: Preliminary results from a case-control study. Am J Epidemiol 1985: 122: 518.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spirtas R., Heineman E.F., Bernstein L., Beebe G.W., Keehn R.J., Stark A., Harlow B.L., and Benichou J. Malignant mesothelioma: Attributable risk of asbestos exposure. Occup Environ Med 1994: 51: 804–811.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Stephens M.A. EDF statistics for goodness of fit and some comparisons. J Am Statistical Assoc 1974: 69: 730–737.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Teschke K., Morgan M.S., Checkoway H., Franklin G., Spinelli J.J., van Belle G., and Weiss N.S. Mesothelioma surveillance to locate sources of exposure to asbestos. Can J Public Health 1997: 88: 163–168.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Teta M.J., Lewinshon H.C., Meigs J.W., Vidone R.A., Mowad L.Z., and Flannery J.T. Mesothelioma in Connecticut, 1957–1977, occupational and geographic associations. J Occup Med 1983: 25: 749–756.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • US Department of Labor. Employee Tenure in the mid-1990s. Bureau of Labor Statistics. News Bulletin USDL-97-25. Washington, DC, January 30 1997.

  • US Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 1980, 81 edn, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Bulletin 2075. Washington, DC, March 1980.

  • US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Risk Assessment Guidance for Conducting Probabilistic Risk Assessment. RAGS3A. Office of Research and Development, Washington, DC, 1999.

  • Vineis P., Thomas T., Hayes R.B., Blot W.J., Mason T.J., Pickle L.W., Correa P., Fontham E.T.H., and Schoenberg J. Proportion of lung cancers in males, due to occupation, in different areas of the USA. Int J Cancer 1988: 42: 851–856.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Welch L.S., Acherman Y.I.Z., Haile E., Sokas R.K., and Sugarbaker P.H. Asbestos and peritoneal mesothelioma among college-educated men. Int J Occup Environ Health 2005: 11: 254–258.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Williams R.R., Stegens N.L., and Goldsmith J.R. Associations of cancer site and type with occupation and industry from the Third National Cancer Survey Interview (selected tables). J Natl Cancer Inst 1977: 59: 1147–1177.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Woitowitz H.J., and Rödelsperger K. Mesothelioma among car mechanics? Ann Occup Hyg 1994: 38: 635–638.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wong O. Considerations of specificity in assessing the relationship between asbestos and cancer. Am J Ind Med 1993: 23: 521–523.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wong O. Malignant mesothelioma and asbestos exposure among auto mechanics: Appraisal of scientific evidence. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 2001: 34: 170–177.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Yeung P., Patience K., Apthorpe L., and Willcocks D. An Australian study to evaluate worker exposure to chrysotile in the automotive service industry. App Occup Env Hyg 1999: 14: 448–457.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The research supporting this analysis and the time needed to write the paper were funded almost entirely by DaimlerChrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors Corporation, which have been involved in litigation involving brake dust. These three funding sources (and their counsel) did not provide editorial comments or review the paper before submission to the journal. Some of the authors have served and may continue to serve as expert witnesses regarding the historical exposures of mechanics to asbestos during brake repair.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Fionna S Mowat.

Appendix A

Appendix A

Results of exposure surveys conducted by automobile companies Table 1

Table 1 Table a1

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Finley, B., Richter, R., Mowat, F. et al. Cumulative asbestos exposure for US automobile mechanics involved in brake repair (circa 1950s–2000). J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 17, 644–655 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.jes.7500553

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.jes.7500553

Keywords

This article is cited by

Search

Quick links